Yesterday Was a Big, Big Velocity Day for the Chicago Cubs
The Codify Twitter account is not only interesting and useful, but it also tends to be pretty clever in how it times its content.
So, I am not sure this tweet yesterday, after both Cubs games had completed, was entirely a coincidence:
The Cubs, we all know very well, did not have a lot of velocity last year. Or the year before that. Or before that. I mean, you generally have to go back a solid 15 years to find a time when the Cubs were “known” as a club that “has velocity.” It just hasn’t been their thing in a long time. One or two guys every now and again? Sure. But not en masse.
I mean, I am only slightly kidding. But when I saw the Codify tweet about eight TOTAL pitches last season that reached 98 mph, my instant thought was: I think they might’ve topped that today alone.
So I had to check.
In the game at Salt River Fields, which had Statcast data running, the Cubs reached or exceeded 98 mph FIVE times (one by Cam Sanders, and four by Ryan Jensen). The game at Sloan did not have Statcast data available, but it did have Arizona Phil in the house watching the stadium gun. According to Phil, Julian Merryweather touched 98 mph at least once, and Nick Burdi touched 100 mph FIVE times, and his SLOWEST fastball was 98 mph. So that might upwards of 15 or 20 additional pitches yesterday that were at 98 mph or above.
In total, then, you’re talking about over 20 pitches – from four different pitchers – that were at 98 mph yesterday, after the Cubs had just eight total such pitches in the entire 2022 regular season. That’s funny.
Sure, it’s just Spring Training and it doesn’t count, but also, it’s February. To have lots of guys at 98 mph or above right now is kinda nuts. And the Cubs had four different guys who topped that number yesterday, and at least two others who touched 97 mph (Caleb Kilian and Anthony Kay). Oh, and that doesn’t include Jeremiah Estrada, who pitched yesterday and topped out at 96 mph (but we know he can run it up to 98+ mph).
When everyone is ramped up, it’s not at all hard to imagine the Cubs organization sporting a dozen+ pitchers who touch 98 mph on the regular. How many of those guys will be on the big league roster for an appreciable chunk of the season? Well, that part is a fair and substantial question. Though I would point out that four of the high velo guys from yesterday are on the 40-man roster (Jensen, Merryweather, Estrada, and Kilian), and the other three are all Triple-A/MLB-level relief options (Sanders, Kay, and Burdi). So even among just those seven guys – from ONE day of Spring Training in FEBRUARY – we might actually see several premium velocity pitches this year.
Surely the Cubs will have more than eight such pitches this year, right?